Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes presents Gordon Ewell with the Kentucky Colonel award.
Emery County High School graduate receives Kentucky's highest honor
Emery County High School graduate and former resident Gordon L Ewell, was commissioned a "Kentucky Colonel," by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Steven L. Beshear and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes on Aug. 10, during a small ceremony held at the state capital building in Frankfurt, Ky.
Being commissioned a "Kentucky Colonel" is the "Highest Honor" awarded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Kentucky Colonels are Kentucky's ambassadors of good will and fellowship around the world. Kentucky colonelships are commissioned for an individual's contributions to his or her community, state or nation, and for special achievements. It is the highest award the Governor presents for service and accomplishments on the behalf of others.
Ewell joined the Utah Army National Guard after graduating high school in 1985. While attending college at CEU in 1991, he was activated and deployed to Germany during the Gulf War. He transitioned to active duty status after that. He spent 24 years in the Army and Utah Army National Guard.
He retired as a Master Sergeant after being deployed nearly a year during the war in Iraq in 2006. His mission during the war, as an expert in the way the enemy made, disguised and detonated deadly improvised explosive devices (or "roadside bombs"), was to be embedded with all the route clearance teams that had the deadly mission of finding the bombs and making sure they were all aware of the latest tactics and techniques the enemy was using, as well as ensuring that they were up to date with the best practices and ways to use the new equipment being used to find the bombs.
He also co-authored the first "Route Clearance Handbook" adopted by the Army to use for training of new route clearance teams in modern day warfare.
During his deployment a vehicle he was traveling in was blown-up by roadside bombs on six different occasions. He suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), permanent neurological damage, a broken neck, severe damage to the left side of his face, suffered the anatomical loss of his right eye, and being rendered nearly totally deaf required the implementation of a cochlear implant. He is also legally blind.
After suffering on a very long road of recovery and rehabilitation for more than four years, Ewell was devastated to learn of the astronomically high divorce rates among those who were severely wounded and to find out that he was losing more of his "Brothers and Sisters" (other service members) to suicide than those who were killed in combat by the enemy. Feeling a sense of duty to try to do something to help, he has written two books (Dung in My Foxhole and A Lifetime At War) about the War in Iraq, his experiences there, and his experiences suffering the pain of recovering from severe wounds received in combat as well as his battles with severe Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and depression.
His intent is to reach out to those who are suffering, to let them know they are not alone, and that there is hope; that they can endure and get through the hard times and find a place of peace and a way to bring enjoyment back into their lives. He also hopes the books will help to increase public awareness about those who are severely wounded and suffering; as well as inform the public of the hardships and stress the families go through during these very difficult times. All of the proceeds from his books go to organizations and charities that provide aid to these "Wounded Warriors" and their Families.
The Kentucky American Legion hosted him for an eight day schedule that included eight book signings, three TV interviews, two live radio interviews, public speaking engagements, and stops at Fort Campbell and Fort Knox to visit the soldiers in the Wounded Warrior transition units there.
Ewell helped to raise more than $10,000 during his visit for Kentucky Wounded Warrior Programs. He was also presented with the "Key to the City" of Leitchfield, Ky. by the Honorable Mayor William H. Thomason and named a "Duke" by the Honorable Mayor Hardy Gentry of Paucha, Ky., in addition to the high honor of being commissioned a "Kentucky Colonel."
Other famous Kentucky Colonels include President Ronald Reagan, President Lyndon B. Johnson, English Prime Minister Winston Churchill, John Glenn (America's first person in space), Pope John Paul II, General Omar Bradley, Bob Hope, Muhammad Ali, Betty White, Elvis Presley, Tiger Woods, George Clooney and Johnny Depp.
Ewell currently resides in Eagle Mountain, Utah. However his love of the county makes him always feel at home when he visits. His grandfather Don Ferguson resides in Ferron, and many dear friends still reside throughout the county.
One of the best things a person can do to help, according to Ewell, is to simply say "Thank You," to someone you know that may be a military service member or a veteran. A smile and a "thank you" go a mighty long way.